Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment

By Roger Stern, Michael Mignola & Mark Badger, Gerry Conway, Gene Colan, Bill Mantlo, Kevin Nowlan & various(Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-8454-6

This occult odd couple concoction is perhaps one of the very best Marvel Universe yarns from the post-Kirby years and tells a powerful tale by contrasting the mandatory origin sequences of the two doctors to produce effective motivations for and deeper insights into both characters.

Adding even greater interest and incentive, this collection from 2016 – also released as an eBook – offers loosely associated material from Astonishing Tales #8, Doctor Strange #57 (February 1983) and Marvel Fanfare #16 and 43…

Victor Von Doom is a troubled gypsy genius who escaped the oppression of his homeland on a scholarship to America. Whilst there he succumbed to an intense rivalry with young Reed Richards, even then perhaps the most brilliant man alive.

The arrogant Von Doom performed unsanctioned experiments which marred his perfect features, leading him down a path to super-science and an overwhelming hunger for power and control. His mother, a sorceress, burns in hell for the unholy powers she used in life, powers which her son also possesses.

Steven Strange was America’s greatest surgeon, a vain and arrogant man who cared nothing for the sick, except as a means to wealth and glory. When a drunken car-crash ended his career, Strange hit the skids until an overheard barroom tall tale led him to Tibet, an ancient magician, and eventual enlightenment through daily redemption. He battles otherworldly evil as the Sorcerer Supreme, Master of the Mystic arts.

When a magical call goes out to all the World’s adepts offering a granted wish to the victor in a contest of sorcery, both Doom and Strange are among the gathered. After mystic combat reduces the assemblage to the two doctors, Doom’s granted wish is to rescue his mother’s soul from Hell…

A classic quest saga, Triumph & Torment sees the two mages storm the gates of the Underworld in a mission of vain hope and warped mercy, battling the hordes of Mephisto and their own natures in a mesmerizing epic of power and pathos.

Roger Stern is at his absolute writing peak here and the unlikely art team of Michael Mignola and Mark Badger defy any superlatives I could use. The art is simply magical, especially the mesmerising colouring, also courtesy of Mr Badger.

High drama, heroism, perfidy and plenty of surprises wrapped in superb craftsmanship typify all that’s best in the “Marvel Style” and this tale has it all aplenty.

The bonus material kicks off with ‘… Though Some Call it Magic!’ by Gerry Conway, Gene Colan & Tom Palmer: a tense vignette from Astonishing Tales #8 (October 1971) which first revealed details of the arcane annual ritual in which the metal-shod monarch of Latveria battled with the King of Hell for possession of a gypsy witch’s soul, after which Doctor Strange #57 (February 1983) revealed Roger Stern’s first stray thoughts on the forthcoming Triumph & Torment epic…

Although the story mainly dealt with other acolytes trying to become the sorcerer’s latest apprentice, ‘Gather My Disciples Before Me!’ – illustrated by Kevin Nowlan & Terry Austin – saw Doom attempt to swallow his gargantuan pride and also petition Stephen Strange to become his tutor in the ways of magic…

The story portion of this graphic grimoire concludes with a brace of salty sea tales starring Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner both illustrated by then callow newcomer Mike Mignola and scripted by Bill Mantlo. The undersea action opens with ‘A Fable’ (Marvel Fanfare #16, September 1984) with the Sea King striving to save a beautiful beast from the callous cruelty of sailors whilst from MF #43 (April 1989) ‘Time After Time’ – inked by P. Craig Russell – sees the Sub-Mariner fall through time to an age of piracy and share a brief, overpowering passion with a ferocious female freebooter…

Sweetening the pot is a full cover gallery, Mignola Namor pin-ups, a Marvel Age article on Triumph & Torment (by Peter Sanderson) and a couple of delicious Mignola parody ads. Also included are Mignola sketches, and a gallery of pin-ups by Austin, Carl Potts, Ken Steacy, Ian Akin & Brian Garvey, Bret Blevins, Bob Layton, Gregory Wright, Craig Hamilton, Mike Machlan, Joe Sinnott, Kerry Gammill, Nowlan & Paul Ryan.

Sheer comic enchantment, this a book no lover of the fantastic fiction can afford to ignore.
© 1971, 1983, 1984, 1989, 2013, 2016 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.